Executive Studio Presentation Tips

Welcome to the Executive Studio!

In our live and virtual studio, we teach executives, business leaders, managers, authors and all levels of emerging talent the special presentation and leadership presence tips that every actor masters, on stage or on screen.

If you follow us, your presentations (live or by phone) will soar, your public speaking will sizzle and your leadership talents will skyrocket. Since we can’t rehearse all of you in person, we are giving you a new tip each month. Watch for them and come back here to read any you might have missed (Links to our archives will be at the bottom of the page). We make it fun to be taken seriously……Now go practice!

Presentation Tip # 7
Don’t Swallow Your Punch Line

Stop! Don’t leave! I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not a comedian, what could this Tip mean to me? Why should I care about a punch line, and whether I swallow it or not?

Here’s why that punch line is so critical to your effectiveness as a presenter or speaker:

A punch line is called a punch line because it “punches home” the most important idea or message in the story.

gilda_bill_murray_051613-400x300In comedy, that story takes the form of a joke or a comic monologue. And the punch line brings everything to a conclusion or resolution. For a comedian, to goal is to get the laugh. Buh-da-bing!

For an executive, a leader, or any professional speaking before a group, it’s the same principle – your story is your speech or presentation, and your punch line is designed to bring an idea to a conclusion, and to get a response, or call your audience to action.

But a punch line will have no punch at all if it can’t be heard or has no energy!

Just like a runner who thinks he has the race won and slows down right at the finish line, actors sometimes make the mistake of slowing down and losing energy just as they get to the end of a scene or line – they mentally “get ahead” of themselves and are already thinking past the end to the next scene. Instead of staying in the moment and keeping the energy focused so that the last word/line comes out with a bang, their voice drops out from underneath them, they lose the momentum and that last word loses its steam. Maybe nobody even hears it.

Carson as KarnakIt’s the same for the leader, the executive or professional who is speaking or presenting. Often in trying to just get to the end of the speech or presentation, it’s easy to let your energy down and just “coast” to the end. No one hears the end of the point you were making, and you’ve lost your audience.

Your “punch lines” are your chance to grab your listeners’ attention again and again and leave them wanting more – to make an impression and influence. You want everyone to feel “Yes, I get it!” or “Wow, I should have thought of that” or “Hmm, that was a really interesting point.”

37464-chris-rock-637x0-1Four important things go into delivering your all-important punch line:
Volume – Make sure you can be heard! A successful punch line is often just a matter of volume.
Focus – Stay mentally focused on your point – don’t get distracted by what’s happening later that day or pressure yourself to “wrap it up quickly” or move on to the next section.
Confidence – Know that you know what you know – sounds kooky but, in other words, you’re the one presenting. You’re the one they have come to hear. Own it.
Control – When you have the other 3 elements in place, you determine the flow, pace and delivery of the information. You’re in charge. Enjoy it. Use the “wait for it moment” and then throw that punch!

Presentation Tip # 6

The Power of “Three”

Marx Brothers 1Ready, Set, Go!
Win, Place and Show.
Larry, Moe and Curley.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo.

What do these have to do with teaching you powerful Presentation Tips?
It’s the concept of “3”!

Delivering information in trios will sharpen your delivery technique, keep your audience focused, and make your presentations memorable.
(Did you notice I gave you 3 reasons to pay attention?)

In writing and oratory, (yes, in all things you plan to communicate as a business leader) there is a principle that things that come in threes are:
— innately funnier
— more satisfying
— and more effective
than other numbers.

From Roosevelt to Churchill…. to Kennedy to King…. the most powerful speakers of our age have used the power of 3 in their speeches.

And…. no self-respecting comedian has ever underestimated the “power of three” in the art of comedy.
andrews sisters - cropped

Why? Because a series of 3 creates a progression…or more importantly a pattern…..
in which necessary tension is
a) created
b) built up
and finally,
c) released.
This “comic triple” is the smallest number needed to create a pattern. It works so well for comedians because they know that their audience is perceiving a pattern of information, and then, boom! The unexpected third element knocks them off kilter. It’s the twist. It’s the pay-off. And it gets the laugh every time.

Why is this threesome so important for you?

Because patterns help your audience remember.
images of threes - cropped
When you tap into the deep cultural patterns and rhythms of our society and our language, you create a more compelling and memorable experience for your audience.
The “power of three” helps you bring clarity, control and concise definition to your presentations, giving your audience a secure handle to grab onto so they can clearly understand what they need to take away and put to use.

It’s time to put this concept of “3” to work for you!

Step one: Organize your thoughts and talking points into threes.
Step two: Condense your points into three memorable “headlines” or “packets”
Step three: Think like a playwright: Be sure your material has a First, Second and Third Act.

3 stooges 1Write your headlines or questions using “3” such as:
“There are 3 things I want you to remember today.”
“Who can answer these 3 questions?”
“We have three things to accomplish in today’s session.”

You’ll be surprised at how quickly this becomes a good and effective presentation habit. Think “stability of the triangle” and be memorable!




Executive Studio Presentation Tip #5:
The Power of the Pause

Jack Benny

Here’s a T-Shirt we saw recently at the airport……

“I. Can. Make. The. Little. Voice. In. Your. Head. Take. Pauses.”

We bought the T-shirt!
Why? It so perfectly sums up the essence of the
“Power of the Pause.”
Okay…. try reading it again.
Didn’t you take those pauses when you were reading it?
C’mon. Admit it. You did.

superman stops a trainOne. Little. Dot.
The Power of the Pause is more powerful than Superman stopping a locomotive.
We strategically call it the “Wait for It” moment.

But what does that little “dot” actually do or say?
The answer is:
“Stop! Take a breath. Process what you just read. Think before you move on.”
We think it’s a necessity in a super-charged, Autobahn-paced world that often dictates that you “race” through what you read, or more critically, what you say.

The “Wait for It” moment gives you power and influence. Whoever you are. Whenever you speak. When you use it, you are asking your audience to perk up, pay attention, engage intellectually with you and “wait for” what you are going to tell them next.

When you’re speaking, the verbal equivalent of that little dot is the Pause. You are reinforcing the idea of….Whoa! Pay Attention. Don’t miss what I have to say next. Because it might be the most important thing I’m about to tell you.

To give it more context, the “Wait for It” moment is like a freeze frame in time. Everyone listening to you is in a moment of suspension. And you “own” the audience in that very moment.

Now it’s your turn! Grab any text or copy that you enjoy or have to deliver in an upcoming presentation. Mark it up with lots of “dots” that signal you to pause. And read aloud. Or read to someone else. Make sure you insert that “Wait for It” moment anytime you’re about to mention:
Shirley Temple at mic1. A list
2. An important fact
3. A new idea
4. A date or time
5. A new business result

Map it out. Take a breath. It’s not dead air, but instead a gift to the listener. When you pause, your audience can actually process what you say and remember your message.

Here’s the best way to practice. In your head, think:
“Wait for it… Wait for it… Wait for it…” Then deliver your line! You’ll create active energy that your audience can’t help but pick up on. They’ll be eating – or rather listening – right out of your hand.
We’re. Absolutely. Certain.

Executive Studio Presentation Tip #4:
Banish Those Deadly “Ums” and “Ands”

Laurence OlivierPicture this. You go to the theatre to see HAMLET and hear the leading actor say:
“To be or not to be, um, that is the, um, question.” I don’t know about you, but I’d surely want my money back. We recently rehearsed a marketing Guru from a large media company and on paper he had it down. Good script. Good message. But then, as he started to practice on the stage, and at the podium, we heard it. We heard the word “and” 48 times during his speech. Does it really sound that bad? Yes! “And” is another culprit that will wear your listener down and put your entire audience in a coma faster than a 7th Rocky sequel.

tweedle_dee_and_tweedle_dum_alice_in_wonderland_themed_vinyl_wall_decal_b3844b5fThe AND/ UM…..they are friends, but not yours!

Simply put, “And” is filler “weed” that strings out your thoughts, never allowing your audience to settle on a point or idea. Just when they think they’ve grasped what you had to say, you dilute their understanding and confuse them by throwing “and” onto the speech roadway, plowing through every grammatical stop sign in sight. And, and, and, and….after a while people just give up and tune out.

The “Um” is the bad habit of pausing aloud. You think “I need a second to think about what I’m going to say next” and your audience hears “I’m not prepared. I’m scared. I don’t really have a handle on things.”
The “um” can destroy your narrative, the force of your argument, and your focus.

Here are the best ways to root out and zap these vocal habits so you don’t lose your listener:

Write your presentation (of any length) with short, to-the-point sentences. Avoid those weak filler words. Use words that can have a punchy effect. Think of it as using verbal “bullet points.”
• Short
• Punchy
• Focused

Wherever you would normally insert or write an “and,” in your text, resist the temptation!

genekelly at micWhen you are rehearsing, (we insist you rehearse!) listen carefully to what you say. Could your sentence be running on too long? Did you accidentally insert “and” where it didn’t have to be? Then just stop talking.

• End the sentence.
• Take a short pause.
• Then continue.
The thought will be clearer. The short rhythms will keep people engaged.

Still not sure? Go through your presentation or speech and look for any long, run-on sentences with the tell-tale “and” – then chop the sentences in half. Use an action word or a word that evokes an image to open your new, shorter sentence.

Don’t let a tiny little “um” be your undoing. (That bad boy can undermine your strength as a presenter.) When you do need to collect your thoughts for a second before you continue, use the “power of the pause” to your advantage.

Just pause.
Take a breath. (More on The Power of the Pause in our next newsletter)
You may need to practice! We encourage it.
Ask a friend or colleague to listen while you rehearse your presentation. Rehearse with or without your PowerPoint. Because overcoming these habits requires diligence and help from observers.
If you don’t think you’re guilty, record yourself. You’ll hear the unvarnished truth.

Then….Watch those weeds disappear. Your presentation becomes a thing of beauty.

Missed our earlier Presentation Tips?
Click here to view our complete Archives




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